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Scout makes handicap-accessible tables for Texas Zoo in honor of his disabled grandparents

By Camille Doty
Dec. 11, 2011 at 6:11 a.m.

Billy Pugh, 18, and his Scout Master Mark Maraggia  gathered at one of the tables Billy built for the Texas Zoo that is handicapped accessible.  On Saturday, he was recognized for his contribution.

ABOUT BILLY PUGH:

Age: 18

Family: Paulette and Tommy Pugh; parents; Kayla Pugh, twin sister

Employer/position: Walmart, sales associate

Activities: Boy Scouts, Student Council treasurer at Industrial High School

Billy Pugh thought about his grandparents as he set out to help people with disabilities enjoy the Texas Zoo.

For one of his Eagle Scout projects, he took on the task of making their lives a little bit easier.

The 18-year-old Industrial High School senior built three tables that are accessible to people with disabilities at the Texas Zoo.

"It's a great place," he said of the zoo.

On Dec. 3, the zoo recognized him for his contribution.

"The tables are being well used," said executive director Andrea Blomberg. She also said the tables make the zoo more user-friendly.

Pugh started planning his Eagle Scout project in December 2010. He finished on Nov. 2, just four days shy of his 18th birthday.

He raised $350 and spent about 200 hours working on the project. He enlisted the help of Brandon Maraggia, Nathan Maraggia, Ethan Woolsey, Jason Drane and Tessa Lev of Troop and Crew 101.

Although the tables now belong to the zoo, Pugh said, his life has been enriched by the experience.

"I learned how to plan things better and be at places on time," he said.

Scoutmaster Mark Maraggia said it has been a pleasure watching Pugh mature.

"Watching how much he has grown up is the biggest accomplishment," Maraggia said.

Pugh is working to achieve his Eagle Scout rank at a special Scout Court of Honor.

Some requirements include being active in a troop, participating in leadership projects and earning 21 merit badges. Pugh has 27 badges.

Mary Hodgkinson, chartered organization representative for St. Joseph's Catholic Church, said Pugh's compassion and perseverance are an asset to the community.

"He does everything he possibly can to stay on the right path," Hodgkinson said.

Pugh also built a prototype table for the Inez Catholic church he attends.

Pugh's father and grandmother have a genetic disorder that requires them to use a breathing machine to sleep.

Because of his grandmother, Helen Cole, Pugh said, he wants to study the human heart and be a diagnostic medical sonographer, specializing in echocardiography.

He said he loves seeing how the heart works.

Although the high school senior has big aspirations, Pugh said he was grateful for the foundation others built for him.

"Without scouting, I don't know where I would be," he said.

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